Check out my round-up of the best things to eat, drink and see in Camden Market. From a dazzling Turkish light shop to gluten-free Venezuelan street food and a one-room micro gin distillery, London’s largest marketplace has it all.
Food and drink:
Fuel your caffeine addiction at this tiny stall situated in the courtyard just behind Camden Lock Market hall. You’ll find all your usual combinations here (espressos, flat whites and cappuccinos etc, etc), but the real reason you should visit is for their spiced Ethiopian-style coffee. Think warm winter spices (cardamon, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg) plus the smokey aroma of freshly ground coffee beans stirred into foamy milk (an optional and less traditional addition, I must add) and you’ve got yourself a hot, steaming cup of spiced Ethiopian coffee. If you like chai lattes (not the sweet, syrupy StaryB kind), then you’ll love this.
Think freshly-made, authentic Italian pasta. Now think about that pasta being dropped into the middle of a huge wheel of cheese and tossed around until it’s throughly coated in melty, cheesy goodness and tell me that doesn’t sound like the most erotic thing you have ever heard. Go on, tell me. A plate of this will set you back £6.50-7 (depending on your choice of sauce) but, to be honest, it’s worth it just to watch your pasta take a steamy cheese bath. Find them behind the TE Dingwall Building, near the canal path.
3) Oli Baba’s
This stall serves one and one thing only and that, my friends, is halloumi fries. But these are no ordinary deep-fried cheese sticks. Oh no, these lovelies are coated in sumac and turkish chilli, drizzled with cool za’tar yoghurt and topped with a scattering of fresh mint and juicy pomegranate seeds. Heaven in a little brown paper boat. A dream boat, if you were. Nab yourself a portion of these squeaky cheese sticks from their stall near the London Waterbus dock in the West Yard market space.
4) Arepazo Bros
On this particular Saturday, Arepa boasted the biggest queue. Even at 3pm people were lining up around the corner to get their Venezuelan stuffed corn breads. Why so much hype over corn bread you ask? Well, arepas are grilled or toasted buns made from ground maize. They’re naturally gluten-free (celiacs rejoice) and eaten throughout Venezuela and Columbia. These buns were overspilling, heavily loaded with shredded beef and/or chicken and a hefty helping of back beans, plantain, avocado and pico de gallo. I didn’t have the patience to wait (maybe next time) but they looked pretty epic from afar. You can keep it veggie by skipping on the meat or tuck into a portion of their cheesy plantain fries instead.
These guys get a special mention for their huge souvlaki wraps. Find them down in the twist and turns of the Stable Markets. Everything served here is drizzled with or seared in olive oil from their founder’s olive grove in Sparta (pretty cool, huh?). One of these bad boys will only set you back £5, £6 at the most. The best part? You won’t be wanting more until well into the late afternoon.
A couple of years ago Chin Chin Labs hit headlines for their liquid nitrogen ice cream. While their frozen desserts are certainly pretty cool (and definitely something to try in the warmer months), you have to head on over to their shop for one of their monster hot chocolates. Probably one of THE most indulgent things in the Market, it’s made with velvety smooth melted Valrhona chocolate (a high-grade luxury chocolate made in France and used by many confectioners) and topped with toasted marshmallow fluff. There’s a real skill to eating one of these hot chocs. If you manage to make it through it all without dropping any down your front, then kudos to you.
For freshly baked bread and artisan pastries look no further than The Flour Station Bakery in the heart of the Stable Markets. While their Camden cafe is a relatively new addition (it opened in November 2016), The Flour Station has been going for a while. It was an idea born out of the kitchen of Jamie Oliver’s award-winning Fifteen restaurant and they’ve been supplying London with fresh, handmade produce since 2002. Coffees and croissants are in ample supply here. But if you’re looking for something a little stronger, fear not, because Toast Ale (the crowd funded craft beer made from discarded bread) is apparently winging its way to the cafe some time soon. Stay tuned.
Pick up a bottle of gin or, better yet, distil your own in Half Hitch Gin’s one-room micro-distillery, just off the West Yard market space. Book onto one of their classes for £50 per person and learn a little more about London’s gin history, including how to make your own. If you haven’t got the money (or time) to commit to the cause then you can always wander in at any time of day, try a free sample and listen to the guys behind the counter wheel off some fun, quirky facts about the hand Camden once played in the city’s gin trade.
9) Tile Cat
Source some wavy garms from the kaleidoscope den of colour that is Tile Cat. Situated on the walk away over looking the West Yard, this place takes ordinary clothes and pimps them out with colourful tassels and embroidery patches. I’ve got my eye on that denim jacket… Summer (/Glasto) is just around the corner after all.
10) Iconica Books
This alcove in Camden’s Market Hall is a book nerd’s paradise (aka mine). From floor to ceiling, the walls are stacked high with Penguin Book titles, knickknacks and art work. It’s colourful, it’s cool, I love it. (P.s. Can anyone spot the copy of 1984?)
11) Turkish Delight
Turkish Delight is incredible. Hundreds of glowing globes hang from the railway arch above, lighting up the shop with a dazzling array of colours. I’d hate to think what their electricity bill is (or what it’s doing for the environment) but, hot damn, it’s beautiful. It might take you a while to find your way around the confusing twist of alleyways down in the Stable Markets but persevere, it’s one that can’t be missed.